Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fun Size vs. Mini Size

Are they making the Halloween candy smaller every year? It sure seems so.

To be fair, I do have large hands.

 It used to be (a long, long time ago) that no one ever gave any thought to what size a candy bar was. Candy bars came in whatever size they came in. Some were bigger than others. The Three Musketeers bar was bigger than an Almond Joy, but that was okay. They were all "full-sized" or candy bar sized. Size didn't really matter.

But then someone decided that smaller candy bars might work better for times like Halloween. They started off calling these shrunken candy bars "Snack Size." It made it sound as if a full size candy bar was some kind of large meal no one could ever finish in one attempt, so instead they were offering smaller bars that people could eat as a "Snack." And, it worked. People loved the "Snack Size" candy bars, which were usually one-half to one-third the size of a regular candy bar. They were a great size to give away for Halloween, and you could eat two or three of them without feeling too guilty about it.

Full-Size, Fun-Size, and Mini-Size. (Eat them all and you'll need to Exer-Cise.)

Of course, over the years, full-sized candy bars have gotten smaller and smaller. And the same thing has happened to "Snack Size." In fact, most companies have changed the name of these smaller bars from "Snack Size" to "Fun Size." Apparently, they aren't big enough to be considered a snack anymore, but they are still fun! The "Fun Size" bars are now only about one-fourth the size of a full-sized bar. But, people still love them. "Fun Size" is fun!

Three "Fun-Size" bars atop a full-sized one.

Unfortunately, someone decided if shrinking bars down to "Fun Size" was a good idea, how about making them even smaller? So now they are offering "Mini-Size" candy bars. The "Mini-Size" candies are less than half as big as the "Fun Size." They're about the size of a fingertip!

Two "Mini-Size" candies on top of a "Fun-Size."

In fact, the "Mini-Size" are so small that I don't think they should be called candy bars--they're too small to be considered a bar! You can call them candies if you want, but they aren't worthy of being called candy bars. These things are about the same size as a Hershey's Kiss. No one calls a Hershey's Kiss a candy bar.

And, like a Hershey's Kiss, the "Mini-Size" candies are hardly worth the effort to unwrap. If you are larger than a standard elf, your hands will be so much larger than the "Mini" that it will be difficult to grasp the wrapper to unwrap the treat. The candy is so small that I wouldn't be surprised if the wrapper weighs more than the actual candy!

Sometimes I'm tempted to not even bother unwrapping these little things.
This needs to stop now! If left unchecked, the candy companies might keep making their candies smaller and smaller, until they are the size of Pop Rocks. (And I don't mean a package of Pop Rocks, I mean as small as each individual rock that pops.) How long until they start individually wrapping each Smartie?

We need to say no to the "Mini-Size" candies. Don't buy them. Don't give them out as Halloween treats. "Fun Size" are acceptable; full size is preferable. Sometimes size does matter!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Yes, Kids Live Here

If you ever come to visit me in my home, one thing will become evident very quickly: Yes, kids live here.

It's pretty obvious as soon as you enter my house. In fact, you might not be able to get the door open because of all the toys in the way.
None of these are my toys. They all belong to the kids.
In fact, when you come into my house, you just might ask yourself, "Just how many kids does he have? Two? Four? 93?"

We really do have a lot of toys in our living room. Why so many? Well, kids play with toys, and when they are playing with toys they are less likely to be getting into trouble or hitting me in the crotch. (I don't like getting hit in the crotch.)

With some people, you walk into their house and wonder if anyone even lives there. Has anyone ever walked on that carpet? Has anyone ever sat in those chairs? Is this a museum or a house? Meanwhile, when you walk into our house it literally looks as if the alphabet has vomited all over the inside of our front door.

Perhaps it was a dictionary explosion.
The living room isn't the only place where it is evident we have kids. If you manage to get past the toys and make to the bathroom, you might see something like this:

It's either the toilet paper roll or a mummy from an episode of Scooby-Doo.
To be honest, that picture isn't from my house, it's from the home of my wife's parents. They don't have any kids at home, but an occasional visit from the grandkids leaves results like this.

I'm sure there are ways to have kids living in a house without it being apparent that kids live there. I've seen some people who do it. I have no idea how they do it, though. Do they follow kids around with a vacuum all day? Do they hire a professional maid service? Is it cleaned by a singing Disney princess and her troupe of woodland creatures? 

I don't know how they do it. But I do know one thing: if you come to my house, you'll know that kids live here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We're Stuck With Stickers

Kids love stickers. I don't know why, but they do.

Parents, on the other hand, are not nearly as fond of stickers. This time, I do know why. Stickers stick to things. They stick to things they shouldn't stick to. They'll unstick from things they should be stuck to. And then they'll restick to yet more things they shouldn't be stuck to. If you have kids, there is a good chance that at least once a week you will have a sticker stuck to the bottom of either your shoe or your foot, depending on if your around-the-house preference is barefoot or shod.

If a kid sticks a sticker to your kitchen table, it will remain stuck to your table henceforth and forever, unless you sand it off or scrape it off with a screwdriver. Either way, it's going to leave a mark.

But if a sticker is supposed to stick forever on a piece of paper or toy, it will peel off by itself in a matter of minutes. Somehow the stickers know.

And why is it that I have to put the stickers on new toys? Shouldn't they come with the stickers already attached? A while back one of our kids got a Happy Meal toy, and the instructions looked like this:

No Happy Meal toy should have 16(!) assembly steps!
Yes, there were 16(!) tiny stickers that they wanted me to peel off and place on the little toy truck. And I couldn't just put them anywhere; they had to be placed in very specific spots on the truck. Nevermind that me and my big sausage* fingers have a difficult enough time just getting the stickers off of the paper, let alone getting them placed squarely in the tiny spots they are intended for. [*That's link, not patty. (For the most part.)]

Luckily for my kids my wife was there, and she was able to get all 16 stickers in their proper places. (Her fingers are not nearly as sausagy as mine.) But still, couldn't they have just had the toy come with the stickers pre-stuck?

Stickers stuck.
A few years ago we got a toddler bed. (It was for one of our toddlers.) According to the pictures on the box, the plastic headboard of the bed had a big picture of Elmo on it. In actuality, this was not the case. Upon opening the box and going through the parts of the bed that needed to be assembled, we found a large sticker of Elmo that we were supposed to affix to the headboard. Okay, fine, no big deal, right? We placed the Elmo sticker in the proper place on the headboard.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for our toddler to discover the fun of peeling stickers off of things. Before long he had ripped Elmo's eye down to his nose. We tried to reaffix Elmo, but he was never quite the same again.

Elmo needs some cosmetic surgery.
Maybe I'm crazy, but I have to think if Elmo had been pre-affixed at the factory, my toddler wouldn't have been able to give him a (literal) face lift.

Of course, most stickers we deal with aren't the size of a headboard. Most stickers are tiny, and come at us 20, or 50, or 100 per page at a time. They'll stick to your clothes. They'll stick to your floor. They'll stick to the wall. They'll even stick to your face. (Let's just hope you notice it before you go in for that big job interview.)


And if you don't, let's hope your interviewer has a soft spot for rainbows, or hippos, or hippos under rainbows. If not, you might find yourself in a sticky situation.

Friday, October 13, 2017

I'm More Important Than Anyone Else

Let me just state the obvious right here at the start: I'm more important than you! I really shouldn't have to say it. I mean, I'm me and you're you; of course I'm more important!

We have rules for a reason, and that reason is to keep people like you in check. The rules apply to everyone except me, because I'm too important to follow the rules.

Don't scratch my mini-van!
I'm going to park wherever I want. Those yellow lines painted on the ground don't mean anything to me. (Well, except for when I park on top of those lines and take up two spots to make sure no one scratches or dings my car!) Handicapped parking? There's never enough really handicapped people to fill all those spots, so I might as well use them. Fire zone? When's the last time you saw a fire at a store? Of course I can park there!

As far as I know those yellow lines were painted there as someone's abstract art project.
The carpool lane is for vehicles with two or more people in them. Or for me. (Because I'm more important than you.) Don't cross the double white lines? Good advice...unless it's convenient for me. Speed limits mean nothing to me. Are two lanes merging into one? Well, obviously I should be allowed to keep going forward until the last possible moment before I merge, crowding ahead of all you idiots who got over when the sign told you to.

I don't wait in lines. Ever. I'm far too important for that!

I'm glad you people shut off your phones before the start of the movie. But, I'm not going to shut mine off. How will I know when I get a call if I turn my phone off? Besides, I might want to check the scores or play a game if the movie gets boring. Can't do that with my phone off!

20 items or less? Who's got time to count? If it's the shortest line, that's where I'm going.

No, I'm not going to clear my tray and throw away my garbage at the fast food restaurant, I'll just leave it sitting on the table. And no, I'm not going to push my shopping cart to the return area, I'll just leave it by where I parked. They have people they pay to do those kind of things! Why should I bother to do it?
Oh, paid servant! Come fetch my cart for me!

Yes, I'm more important than you. I'm not sure how I can put it in a way that will make sense to you. Maybe if you pretended every day was your birthday you might understand. But probably not, because I'm way more important than your birthday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Day My English Professor Changed My Life

I wasn't expecting her to read my story to the whole class.

It was just another paper for my freshman English class. I didn't think too much about it, other than to make sure it was long enough to meet the requirements of the assignment. I finished the paper, turned it in, and that was that. I hoped it was good enough to get an "A," or at least a "B," but otherwise wasn't too concerned about it.

But, the next time the class convened the professor started the session by discussing the previous assignment, telling us what we had done right and what we had done wrong. She then stated that she was going to read one of the better examples in order to show us what she had expected from us on the assignment.

When I realized that she was reading aloud the words I had written, I was both ecstatic and mortified. I was ecstatic because, out of all the people in the class, she had chosen my paper! She thought it was well-written and funny! She thought it was good. I was mortified because my paper detailed a very personal story about the embarrassing events of a date I went on in high school. As my English professor read my story to the class my face turned several shades of red as I vacillated between pride in my writing and horror that details of my social ineptitude were being given to the entire class, including that really cute girl who sat in front of me.

In the end, the happiness and pride I had in having the professor read my paper in class far outweighed any negativity I might have feared because of it. (Let's be honest: there was no way I would have had the guts to ask that girl out anyway.)

That English professor's name was Elouise Bell. She passed away last week, and as I read a tribute to her, I thought about how my life was changed by that one time she read my paper in class. I'd like to say that from that moment on I worked closely with Elouise, honed my writing skills, and became a world-famous writer. No, that's not how things turned out. Unfortunately, after that one class I never saw Elouise Bell again, and I've wandered through life spending most of my time working as a truck driver.

My freshman English professor, Elouise Bell. (She laughed at me once.)

But, that one semester with Elouise Bell did help instill in me a love of writing, and I've carried that with me for all these years. Whenever anyone asks what my hobbies are, or what I enjoy doing with my free time, writing is near the top of the list.

I wish I still had that story from my freshman English class. I'd like to read it again, to see if I can still see in it what Elouise Bell saw in it that day. (The paper was about my semi-disastrous date to the Homecoming dance my senior year in high school. I wrote about it again a few years ago, if you care to take a look.)

I only took one class from her, more than thirty years ago. And yet, when I heard of her passing I couldn't help but think of how an encouraging word or two helped shape my life. There's a lot of negativity in the world today. Too much negativity. Maybe we should try a different approach. Maybe we could try to encourage each other. You never know how much influence for good you might have on someone's life.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Parents Don't Get Sick Days

Parents aren't allowed to have sick days.

If you're a parent and you're sick, you can't just call in and say, "Sorry, I'm not feeling well so I'm not going to be able to parent today." You can't say, "Sorry kids, but I'm taking the day off so you'll just have to take care of yourselves today." And you certainly can't say, "Change your own diapers, you lazy little punks!"

Kids don't wait for you to blow your nose.
As a parent, there are three minimum requirements that you must meet for your children:
1) You must make sure they have food.
2) You must make sure they are safe.
3) You must deal with their dirty diapers.

These three things have to be addressed, no matter how sick you might be. But the level at which you deal with these things can be dramatically different.

On a normal day, you try to make sure your kids sit at the table for three good meals, get plenty to drink, and have healthy snacks as needed. On a Parent Sick Day, it's all juice boxes and Goldfish crackers. They're eating in the kitchen, in the living room, in the bedroom, heck, they might even be eating in the bathroom for all you know. They're eating crackers, cookies, cold cereal right out of the box, and something they found on the floor. The key is that they are eating something, and that something started out as a food product, so it can't be too bad for them, right? We all knew people in college who ate nothing but junk, and they survived, so it won't hurt your kids too much, will it?

On a normal day, you make sure your kids have plenty of good, learning activities to do throughout the day. They read books, play with educational toys, and keep the television to a minimum. On a Parent Sick Day they watch television. They watch a lot of television. Did you think it impossible for someone to sit through eight straight hours of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood? Well, you were wrong! Moana on a loop for five consecutive showings? No problem! The key is that they are safe. If they are in a vegetative state watching television they won't be climbing to the top shelf of the pantry or falling down the stairs. They are mind-numbingly safe.

On a normal day, you make sure their diapers are changed frequently. You want to make sure everything is clean and fresh down there. On a Parent Sick Day you change their diapers whenever the smell gets overwhelming. If it is only pee in the diaper, it's not really a concern until the diaper gets so full and heavy that the child can no longer carry the weight of it.

So, while you can't take a sick day as a parent, you can turn down your parenting dial from your usual 10 or 9 down to a 4 or 5. As long as you survive the day, and your kids survive the day, that's all you can really ask for, isn't it? (You'll just have to find some way to get the theme from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood out of your head.) (Good luck with that.) ("It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood....")

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Your Kids Will Rat You Out

Here's a piece of advice no one should need to hear: Don't lie to your spouse!

That's pretty much common sense, isn't it? If you want to have a good relationship with your spouse, it would be best if you don't tell them lies.

And as bad as it would be to lie to your spouse, here's something that would be even worse: Don't ask your kids to lie to your spouse for you! There are several reasons why this is not a good idea:
1) You shouldn't lie to your spouse;
2) You shouldn't teach your kids to lie;
3) You don't want your kids to think that lying to one of their parents is a good idea;
D) You don't want to force your kids to have to choose between you and your spouse; and,
E) None of this really matters because those kids are going to rat you out, anyway.

Now, I don't actually know this from experience. I'm not stupid enough to have asked my kids to lie to my wife for me. But, I have seen other people try to do this. They'll say something like, "Don't tell Mom that I let you watch Deadpool. That'll be our little secret." Whenever I see someone do this, it makes me cringe.

Asking your kids to lie or keep a secret from one of their parents is a bad idea because, A) It's wrong; and B) They will tell on you. It might be on purpose, or it might be accidentally, but they will let it slip.

I don't ask the kids to keep secrets from my wife, but occasionally I'll do things that I might not necessarily want her to find out about. I won't ask them not to tell her, I'll just hope it doesn't come up. But it always does. They'll let her know when I stopped at the donut shop or if I got into the Halloween candy a little early. Sometimes they'll blatantly tell her in order to try to get me in trouble, and sometimes it'll just come up in conversation, but they always end up ratting me out.

So, I've found that the best thing to do is just to live your life in such a way that you don't ever do anything you wouldn't want your spouse to know. If you're always honest and open about everything, the kids will never have an opportunity to tattle on you. They can't rat you out if there's nothing to rat about.